5 Easy Ways to Reduce Office Waste

These days pretty much everyone has realized the benefits of reducing waste in the office, both in terms of monetary savings and bragging rights for improved brand image. As a result, you would be hard pressed to find an operation that doesn’t at least have bins available for employees to recycle paper, plastic, aluminum, and glass. But there’s a lot more to reducing waste than simply encouraging employees to use scrap paper for non-essential printing tasks, or set their computers to go into sleep mode after a few minutes of inactivity. And you don’t necessarily have to shoot for the moon here, either, spending tons of time and dough on eco-friendly initiatives. A few simple changes in practice and policy can have a significant impact on the amount of waste your office produces, so here are just a few suggestions to get you started.

  1. Waste assessment. Your first step should be to perform a waste assessment. This could mean hiring an independent auditor to sift through your operation logs and find areas where you could reduce wasteful habits (and often unnecessary expenditure, as well). Or if you own rather than lease a building, you might call the power company for an energy assessment. Both can provide you with a report that gives you clues as to how to proceed where reducing waste is concerned.
  2. Go paperless. For some businesses, going totally paperless just isn’t feasible. But you can greatly reduce the amount of paper products you use with a few simple changes, like using cloud storage as a backup rather than saving hard copies, switching to secure means of electronic sharing and transfer of documents, and sending out Evites and e-cards rather than card stock (which is often non-recycled as well as non-recyclable).
  3. Energy management software. Companies like Faronics and SAP (amongst others) provide software solutions that help businesses to manage their energy usage at both corporate offices and industrial facilities (respectively) by monitoring usage in order to deliver reports and make changes to computer-controlled electrical systems. Whether you’re operating a small office with ten computers or you’ve got an entire manufacturing plant worth of machinery to monitor and tweak, software solutions like these could help you to drastically reduce energy waste in your operation with very little work on your part.
  4. Green supply chain. By seeking out eco-friendly vendors to do business with you could reduce the amount of waste in your own office. For example, you might partner with a shipping company that uses recycled and reusable packaging. Or you might hire catering services for meetings and office events that offer organic food options and recycled or reusable supplies. There are all kinds of businesses out there striving to reduce waste, like you, and working together and supporting each other can only help to advance the movement towards sustainability.
  5. Reusable products. Those interested in careers for healthcare may have to resign themselves to working in an industry that thrives on disposable goods. But most professionals have options when it comes to the products they use in an office setting. So forego paper cups and wooden stir sticks in the break room in favor of reusable mugs and spoons, use staple-free staplers, and consider buying ink cartridges in bulk from RecyclePlace.com, which not only pays you for every empty ink and toner cartridge you send in, but will also send you back refills in reused cartridges. Every little bit counts, and you can, of course, save in the process.

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About the Author

Leon Harris is a freelance writer based in Camarillo, California. A lover of both words and coffee, he can regularly be found either reading or writing at his local coffee shop. If not at the coffee shop, he is usually at UC Santa Barbara, where he attends college part-time.